How old are the bucks harvested on average up in the northern part of the state? What size are they? I've heard that the average is 4 1/2 yrs. How many guys shoot anything and how many hunt for something with a decent rack?
kenton, I believe you are correct. Its been stated that alot of bucks up north may die of old age. This is due to never coming in contact with hunting pressure. Go to Central Maine and south and I believe the deer age is lower due to hunter population, car/deer conflicts, and house dogs/coyotes.
This is a question that I don't think can be answered for any given year. The reason I say this.... To grow headgear a buck must eat alot of feed. If we have a year of drought, then the racks could just be basket racks. A good year where there is plenty of grass,corn, apples and plenty of nuts--a 2 yr old deer could have a massive set of antlers. Was told many years ago by a biologist that for a deer to produce a quality rack-- 90% of his daily take of protein must go into his rack. That only leaves 10% for his body-- so that deer must be in great shape throughout the year for his antlers to get to trophy size.
I think this was back in the early 70s and if I remember correctly, there were several years in a row when there was very little mast crop. I don't remember the mushroom situation. There always seem to be apples somewhere unless there was a lot of damage to blossoms in the spring.
I do remember that year not seeing many big racks around that area. You could always count on the Bennett boys to find the big ones. They would sleep out on mountain tops for days at a time tracking the big one.
Glad you mentioned mushrooms. We harvest what we call oysters and also bears heads up here in the Patten area. Its a race between humans and deer to who gets what. They will stretch an unbelievable height just to get a morel.
To answer your question, I would pass on a smaller buck early in the season in hopes of getting onto a bigger buck. Come the last week of the season I'm shooting the first legal deer I see. Just so happened that this year I saw my first buck on the last day of deer season. It was a 132lb spike with 12 inch spikes. About the size of two PA deer. Unlike down your way you can spend a lot of time in the North woods without seeing a deer.
stweedie just made a great post. If one does pass up the smaller deer, we will have very few trophy bucks to hunt.
Myself personally, during rifle season will not shoot a smaller buck. I use the expanded archery season to fill my tags.
I have already hunted up in N. maine and am very familiar with what one could see in a weeks time. The last time I was there, I hunted for 6 days and saw 2 deer. That was a good week for me.
Here in PA, I hunt on the state gamelands in the northern part of the state. It's the closest thing to Maine that we have. There are a lot of swamps, softwoods, and very FEW deer. However, there are a few slammers roaming in this area. It consists of about 60,000 acres. This is one of the few areas in PA where you can get back off the beaten path a few miles in and never see another guy. That's the way I like it! I do hunt some other areas that have more deer, but they also look like a pumpkin patch with all of the hunters around.
You are correct on deer body size. Our average bucks go about 115 to 140 lbs. Many guys here post their pics in the newspapers and always overstate the weight of the deer. If they shot a Maine bruiser, they would probably post it at 450 lbs! LOL
I am interested in coming to Maine to learn how track a decent buck. I am really not interested in shooting a small buck or doe up there. It would be a waste of 600 miles for me. I don't shoot 1 1/2 yr old bucks in PA anymore either for that matter.
I wouldn't call it an excellent place to hunt, but like I said earlier, it's the closest thing to Maine. I've hunted this particular area for about 8 years now and have yet to figure out a pattern on the deer. There just here and there. There are no defined pockets of them. I have been fortunate enough to shoot an 8 two years ago(not a slammer), and my buddy shot a 10 last year with an 18" spread.
I can't even really find a good feeding area. There are some food plots planted by the PGC, but the deer don't hit them too hard. There are no acorns in this area because of the elevation and the beech crop has been horrible the last few years.
Well you did mention a swamp, so they could be living on sweet ferns or even aquatic plants, not neccessarily in the water but what grows nearby. Deer also eat leaves, such as maple. But there must be some food mast that you haven't found or these deer would move on.
You may want to head more towards Jackman if your looking for tracking snow. Especially since most likely you'll be planning your trip well ahead of time. I hunt around the Houlton area and the past few years we've had very little snow during deer season. At least snow that stays for more than a day or two. The last week is usually good for some snow, but its hard to plan on having snow to hunt on. Its sure a treat when the white stuff starts falling.
Thats why to be a trophy hunter you should have a flexible schedule. I tell everyone, I am unavailable from mid October until mid December. That way I can hunt everyday in a few different states but still play the snow game.